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Black Soldiers in the German Army

Possibly the strangest of all Sven Hassel`s strange characters is Stabsgefreiter Albert Mumbuto, the black soldier who appears in the later books. At first this may seem quite absurd but, in a documentary programme shown on British television recently, several German black men were interviewed about their experiences under the Nazi regime and one of these men described how he had been sent call-up papers for the army and, considering himself primarily German, went along to enlist. He was initially turned away because of his "fuzzy hair" (not his skin colour). On his second attempt he was accepted. Sadly there was no photograph shown of him in uniform.

The black population of Germany during the Nazi era stood at around 200,000. They originated from German colonies in Africa and also from liaison between French colonial troops and German women in the occupied Rhineland after WWI. These children were reaching puberty when the Nazis took power and, as with other minorities in Germany, they were subjected to a programme of sterilization.

There were many strange stories in the programme:- a man who went to renew his German passport and was simply told that there were no black Germans so it was impossible to provide him with a new one. He was effectively left with no nationality and took one of the only options left to him by enlisting in the French Foreign Legion. He was then posted to North Africa where he ended up fighting "against his fellow Germans". He now receives a small Legion pension but nothing from his own country.

Others were actors and extras in films; the Nazis made many films in which they were portrayed as benign rulers of African colonies. These actors were quite safe from persecution for the time-being. It seems that there was no fixed policy in the case of black and coloured people under the Nazis. Some families were sent to concentration camps while others were called-up as soldiers or worked as actors.

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